Dining at Edibles & Essentials (5815 Hampton Avenue, 314-328-2300) is less like going out to a restaurant and more like being a guest in Matt Borchardt's home. One minute, the chef and owner is popping open a bottle of wine at your table; the next he's scrambling back to the kitchen to pull some mushroom tarts out of the oven. It can get a little chaotic, especially during patio season, but the former chef consultant and culinary educator wouldn't have it any other way.
Borchardt opened the tiny Southampton cafe as a way to connect with people through food and hospitality, and he thrives on the interaction with his guests, spending as much time mingling out front as he does in the kitchen. On any day, you can find people from the neighborhood popping in for some white bean dip and a beer, grabbing a few provisions and bottle of wine to go, or chatting up Borchardt about a catering gig. And no matter how busy he is, Borchardt is there with a smile on his face and asking how he can help you, like a good neighbor. – Cheryl Baehr